New upscale eatery offers a higher level of cuisine at lower prices
It's not an easy task to get a new restaurant off the ground with the abundant dining options in Thong Lor. At the Grass complex, Thong Lor Soi 12, Serenade Restaurant & Wine Bar carries a different culinary tune compared to what's available along the upscale stretch and it aims to offer a higher level of food but at a lower price range.
The restaurant's concept moves away from coursed lunches and dinners and turns Western food into smaller and shareable dishes that are put at the centre of the table as in the Thai style of dining.
"We call it 'family-style' dining. In this way, our clientele can order and enjoy more dishes from the menu and share a great dining experience," said general chefanager Timber Suwannakoot.
"When we designed the menu, we wanted people to enjoy two dishes and two drinks for less than 1,000 baht. It's value for money considering the craftsmanship that goes into each dish."
Half Thai, half American, Timber grew up in the US and was in GPS mapping navigation before pursuing a career in cooking. He decided to move to Bangkok to discover his Thai side and ran a steakhouse and was a consultant in the restaurant industry before opening Serenade. His business partners appointed him chefanager because of his culinary and managerial calibre.
The new project had them designing a seasonal menu featuring five categories: Vegetarian, Fill Your Belly - Starches, For the Carnivores, Stuff That Swims, and Les Grands Plats.
"The menu changes according to the availability of ingredients, and the seasonal menu keeps us excited since cooking the same thing every day can be boring," he said.
One signature dish from the Vegetarian menu is grilled longan with feta cheese, rocket salad and 15-year balsamic vinaigrette dressing (145 baht). Longan was the preferred fruit for this Mediterranean-style salad after experimenting with mango and mangosteen.
For carbs, hand-cut potato fries with spicy curry dipping sauce (195 baht) was ordered along with protein-providing grilled cobia fish with smoked paprika buerre blanc (285 baht). They came in small portions due to the restaurant's tapas style of serving, but both were very filling and flavourful.
The cobia dish was created by American chef Aaron Adler, or the "guy that cook food", according to his business card.
Aaron and Timber met each other while working at an Alaskan resort and both with a Cordon Bleu background share a similar mindset of what good food is.
"For instance, the cobia is an oily yet healthy fish with a firm and not chewy texture," said Aaron.
"It's a local fish and to look for good products we even go to the market in Rayong."
They also found a good source of the local gai ban and cooking it at 64 degrees for six hours in a sous vide cooker resulted in tender and mouthwatering meat. The roasted organic baby chicken (330 baht) is highly recommended and a whole bird can also be ordered for 660 baht.
The restaurant, however, uses imported big American scallops for an appetising dish with garlic mash and cider reduction (495 baht), and the 150-day grain-fed Australian striploin (1,200 baht) can be served with spicy jim jaeo demiglace.
"The jim jaeo was a request from Thai customers," Aaron said.
"I'm learning about Thai flavours and applying them to Western food, like doing a larb pate and homemade organic naam [fermented pork] saute."
Organic ingredients play a big role in Serenade's cuisine as Timber has a preference for organic food due to his upbringing on a sustainable farm in Missouri, while Aaron is a health-conscious pescetarian.
The two restaurateurs are keen to make Serenade a healthy and accessible choice, and have created a business lunch set at 240 baht, Happy Hours from 4-7pm featuring a 100-baht cheese plate and wine at 100 baht per glass from a list of New World wine with Robert Parker scores.
"We want to make proper food for everyone," Aaron said.
"If you're not rich, perhaps you may come here once a month; if you're better off, you may come here once a week, and if you really like our food, we would like to welcome you every day."
Review with pictures: http://www.bangkokpost.com/leisure/cuisine/211753/share-and-share-alike